What happens when constitutional order and the rule of law collide with a culture of extrajudicial terror, violence and murder? How do those charged with defending human rights respond to clear evidence of atrocity? Such questions, as we have current cause to acknowledge, are hardly confined to dictatorial regimes. They were, however, posed in particularly acute form in early 1933, when the judicial authorities of the state of Bavaria were confronted with reports of a series of murders in a new incarceration centre just outside Munich: Dachau.
Dachau was the first official concentration camp. Its creation marked a major milestone not only in the development of the terror apparatus of the Third Reich, but also in the destruction of government based on constitutional principle. Yet in 1933 its guards were still subject to oversight by the traditional